LEMOORE — Lemoore City Manager Andi Welsh has agreed to resign after reaching a separation agreement with the Lemoore City Council.

According to the agreement, announced Friday, Welsh will step down May 9 and will receive a lump sum "separation benefit" payment of $152,900.

Welsh has been on administrative leave with full pay and benefits since Jan. 11.

Welsh's annual salary, not counting benefits, is $135,348.

Citing laws that don't require public officials to reveal information about certain kinds of personnel matters, City Council members haven't said anything about why they put Welsh on leave.

Reached by phone Friday, council members Jeff Chedester, Eddie Neal and Holly Blair declined to comment about the separation agreement and Welsh's imminent resignation.

Mayor Ray Madrigal couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Friday's developments were a sharp reversal from 2016, when the council seemed to have a more favorable view of Welsh.

The council voted 4-0 on Nov. 15, 2016, three weeks before new members Holly Blair and David Brown were sworn in, to raise Welsh's severance package from six months of salary to a full year of salary.

Lois Wynne and William Siegel, who were on the council at the time, couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

The severance package is only supposed to kick in if Welsh gets fired.

The $152,900 zeroes out a $10,000 loan the city gave to Welsh to buy a house when she moved to Lemoore from Arizona.

In April 2016, the council gave Welsh a $549-a-month raise, upping her annual salary from $128,760 to $145,348.

She had been on the job for only 10 months.

Welsh was hired in June 2015.

When asked why they were giving her a raise less than a year into her tenure, council members praised Welsh, saying she was doing a great job.

"Welsh has exceeded our expectations," Chedester said in an interview around the time of the raise.

The separation agreement made public Friday includes a "non-disparagement clause" prohibiting city officials from criticizing Welsh and prohibiting Welsh from criticizing city officials.

The agreement states that Welsh has "voluntarily resigned from service with the city" and that she entered into the agreement "without any duress or undue influence on the part or behalf of [the] city or any third party."

The agreement states that if a prospective employer asks city officials for a job reference, there can only give a "neutral reference in which only dates of employment, position held, and Welsh's salary shall be provided."

Dustin Fuller, a Lemoore resident who chairs the city's parks and recreation commission, was critical of the council doubling Welsh's severance package less than two months before she was placed on paid leave.

"Where does it end?" he said. "It's completely foolish that we make these kinds of deals."

The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. 

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